Process Mapping

Mapping processes so you know they’ll work for you

We really can’t overemphasise the importance of your processes. But process frightens people because they think that once created, that’s it – they can never be changed. They also think it’s going to take ages, be too detailed… And, anyway, what’s the point, everyone will ignore them!

We understand. We get how difficult and gritty the whole process of process can be. We help business create successful processes every day, coaching them through the difficult bits. That’s what we do.

We’re practiced at designing the processes you need to run your business. Processes with exactly the right level of detail that you and your people will want to use because they’ll make your life easier and your business more successful. Reviewing, tweaking and developing in line with your changing business are inbuilt.

What is Process & What is Process Mapping?

In business, process mapping is the recording of the series of steps designed to produce a product or service. Processes support your systems, the core elements that make up and run your business, whether you manufacture skincare products or provide services as a recruitment agency.

Your processes are the steps you take to enable a system to work. A series of linked activities that take an input and a ‘process’ of transformation to turn it into an output. You need processes across your business. Internal support systems such as payroll, accounts, sales pipeline, etc. Then the operating systems you use to run your core business – everything from managing suppliers, recruiting seasonal staff, running a production line, designing new services…

The phrase ‘linked activities’ is important to note. Even the smallest business has different areas or departments – sales, marketing, operations, etc. Though separate, these areas  often cross over and, certainly, would benefit from sharing resources or intel. That’s where the process mapper really earns their keep – addressing these linked areas.

It’s easy to see the value of good processes but it takes skill, experience and a fresh set of eyes to design ones that make the business function. People who design good processes are like engineers. That’s WJL.

The danger of poor processes

Every business has processes, but many of them are badly documented and difficult to manage. The danger of poor processes is the damage they can cause you commercially:

  1. The likelihood is you’ve already got a number of systems and processes in your business. In some instances, the process or critical information, is in your head. Naturally, the thought of documenting how you ‘do things’ is daunting. But what happens when you’re out of the picture temporarily? Illness, big project? What happens when someone new comes on board?
  2. The other danger is that rigour may be missing from your process. Being too close to an activity means you miss things, don’t spot the quickest route. Consequently both your customers and staff are not having their best experience.

Your processes are the blueprint to how your company functions. By its nature, a process has to be effective – that is efficient, of value to the business and user-friendly. You and your people are experts in the input and output but not necessarily good at the ‘middle bit’ needed to create the transformation: the process.

The benefit of good processes

Our most successful clients have businesses that are underpinned by process. They aren’t thrown into disarray by opportunities or threats. On the one hand processes are reassuring in moments of stress and failure, a calming influence while you fix. They also give you a framework within which you can explore new ventures and directions.

Three key commercial reasons for having efficient processes in place:

  1. Customer satisfaction: if you offer what they want and then deliver it, making the whole process (eg experience) swift and satisfying, you’ll be rewarded with sharing and returning customers. The better the process, the easier it is to spot where to add value.
  2. Employee performance: our ideal is having the right people (including you) doing the right tasks and getting satisfaction from them performing well. That starts with good processes.
  3. Risk management: what have you missed, not factored in, how open to risk are you? Fit-for-purpose processes reveal the potential for disaster: from loss of key people and change in supplier, to major security breach.

Once you’ve nailed the process, staff training helps demonstrate why following them is beneficial all round. Doing the same thing correctly every time delivers speed and efficiency, and manages everyone’s expectations.

Our Process Mapping Works on Five Key Principles

We have clients at a variety of challenging and exciting stages in their life-cycle, where processes and people are critical to success:

1. Mission

An objective, in other words, so you can measure its success, such as making a cup of tea.

2. A customer

This is the user and recipient of the process’ outcome, including internal customers (eg a process to ensure they receive good data on time so they can perform their role)

3. An objective view

One of the ways of keeping efficiency to the forefront is to regularly ask ‘why are we doing this?’

4. An owner

The person responsible for the continuous improvement of the process (product manager, VA…)

5. Test and review

This isn’t a once only exercise. Continuous improvement means continuously checking that the process is meeting its objective. Is it user-friendly? What is it revealing? Where is it adding value beyond its defined objective? The process owner plus users are the key participants in test and review

How do I Introduce Proper Processes into My Business?

WJL will manage this for you. Here are the common concerns we can help you overcome:

  • Where do I begin? We’ll assess your needs and guide you through every stage
  • I don’t know what I’m doing. You know your business, we know process so, together we’ll make a phenomenal team
  • I do not have time. Once you understand your input, you’ll be able to schedule in the time
  • How much detail do I go into? We’ll work with you to get the level of detail exactly right
  • What if I miss something significant? You won’t; once we’ve scoped your needs and set objectives, the testing stage will highlight any need for adjustment
  • I do not have the software. You won’t need any special software to create a process. You just need WJL.

Example: A Simple, Yet Vital, Process

Office opening process

A simple but vital process for a new, or temporary, member of staff. Without it you, the owner, might have to leap in your car and open up the office yourself. Not a good use of your time.

Start with unlocking:

    1. Key pad or physical keys?
    2. If keypad, what’s the code and where do you keep it documented?
    3. If physical keys, how many?
    4. Are they labelled? Is it clear which key does what?

Your office might have a series of doors to open. Name the keys (eg coloured covers) to make it easier to identify them.

Disarming the alarm:

  • What are the exact buttons to press and in what order?
    (Create a clearly-marked image)

Then what?

    1. Secure entry for staff only
    2. Lights on
    3. Open the blinds
    4. Switch on the heating / air con
    5. Log on and open up ‘XZY’ programmes
    6. Check voicemails
    7. Prepare refreshments according to team drink requirements

You’ll need to anticipate problems and provide solutions or remedial steps. (Where do you keep emergency contact details or trusted tradespeople and suppliers?)

Case Study:

Brian, Builder: process mapping client

Brian needed a robust system with processes in place. He heads up many different projects, managing contractors such as plumbers, carpenters, bricklayers, and decorators.

“I want to sell this business and retire, so I know it’s time to get more organised. Trouble is, I had a really bad experience with an IT guy who said he could organise me. He didn’t!”

Brian’ process was writing everything in his diary – job brief, scheduling, pricing and fee broken down by trades. He also carried files around in his car because he needed them on site. We also introduced him to a piece of software but not before we’d all understood exactly what he did, and how. And then we trained him to use the software to make both his day and his projects run smoothly.

“I admit I don’t like change and I was doubtful when Wendy first spoke to me, especially when she said technology was involved! But she understood that my business isn’t easy, that there’s a lot to keep a track of. So I trusted her. Thank goodness I did. I use the system everyday (every hour more like) and I wouldn’t be without it!”

Are you ready to introduce the power of process to your business?

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